Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2021 NHL postseason. There were two playoff games on the schedule Sunday and there are two Monday.
There are two games on the Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule for Monday:
Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, SN, TVAS): It’s Game 7 between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens in the Stanley Cup First Round. The winner will advance to play the Winnipeg Jets in the second round. Montreal forced Game 7 with two straight overtime wins, including 3-2 at home in Game 6 on Friday. Since 2018, Toronto is 0-6 in elimination games when they would have advanced with a victory, including 0-2 in Game 7 (2018 and 2019). The Maple Leafs have not won a playoff series since 2004. The Canadiens recovered to win Game 5 after blowing a three-goal lead and they did the same in Game 6 after blowing a two-goal lead. They are the first team in NHL history to surrender a multigoal third-period lead in consecutive playoff games when facing elimination and win each. Canadiens goalie Carey Price will make his fourth start in a Game 7; he is 2-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage in the previous three. Maple Leafs goalie Jack Campbell will be appearing in his first NHL Game 7.
New York Islanders at Boston Bruins, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, SN1, TVAS, TVAS2): The Bruins will try to win their sixth straight game and take a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Second Round when they host Game 2 against the Islanders. Forward David Pastrnak had a hat trick and goalie Tuukka Rask made 20 saves in Game 1, a 5-2 Bruins win at home Saturday. Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin made 35 saves in Game 1 but it’s possible Semyon Varlamov will be the Islanders starting goalie in Game 2. He hasn’t played since May 20, when he allowed five goals in a 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the first round.
What we learned
Here are some takeaways from Day 15 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Hurricanes must solve Vasilevskiy
The Carolina Hurricanes had 38 shots on goal in their 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Second Round but said they need to make things more difficult on Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. On their lone goal, from defenseman Jake Bean, the Hurricanes had traffic in front of Vasilevskiy. They’re going to need more of that in this series because they did not get in Vasilevskiy’s way nearly enough in Game 1. Carolina also will need someone to step up in place of forward Nino Niederreiter, who is doubtful for the series after sustaining an upper-body injury in practice Saturday. Niederreiter scored 20 goals in the regular season. The Hurricanes knew this was going to be a challenging series, and they’ll need all the shots, traffic and scoring options they can get against Vasilevskiy and the Lightning. — Tracey Myers, staff writer
Lightning need to adjust on power play
The Lightning went 8-for-20 on the power play against the Florida Panthers in the first round by zipping the puck around so well that the seam would open for a pass to the slot or one-timers from the circles would be available. The Hurricanes’ penalty killers showed a different look to the Lightning in Game 1, aggressively attacking the pressure points and closing the seam pass from the circles to the slot. Tampa Bay forward Brayden Point scored a power-play goal at 8:15 of the second period because defenseman Victor Hedman decided the quick shot from the point was a better option than trying to set up the umbrella and use forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos in the circles. But the Lightning struggled with their zone entries and had issues setting up when they got in on their three power plays. Hedman said they’ll look over the film and adjust for Game 2. They may need more movement from Kucherov and Stamkos if the Hurricanes are going to stay as aggressive as they were in Game 1. — Dan Rosen, senior writer
Avalanche not affected by layoff
The Colorado Avalanche showed no signs of rust after six days off in a 7-1 win in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Second Round against the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday. The Avalanche last played May 23, winning 5-2 in Game 4 of the first round against the St. Louis Blues, and now are 5-0 in the playoffs. Vegas closed their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild with a 6-2 win in Game 7 on Friday. Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar scored four points (one goal, three assists), and the top line of Nathan MacKinnon (two goals, one assist), Gabriel Landeskog (two goals, one assist) and Mikko Rantanen (one goal, one assist) was relentless, combining for eight points and 14 shots on goal. They combined for 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in the series sweep against the Blues. MacKinnon, who is tied with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov (three goals, nine assists) for the NHL lead with 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in the playoffs, became the seventh player all-time to score at least eight goals through his first five games in a playoff year. Colorado is 3-0 at home this postseason and has won 12 straight at Ball Arena dating to the regular season. — Mike G. Morreale, staff writer
Theodore continues to struggle
Shea Theodore was a candidate for the Norris Trophy voted as the best defenseman in the NHL this season and a catalyst for the Golden Knights. He scored 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists), tied for seventh among NHL defensemen, fourth among Vegas skaters. He was plus-28, tied for third among NHL defensemen, first among Vegas skaters. But he scored no points and was minus-1 in a 7-1 loss to the Avalanche in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Second Round. Lots of Vegas players struggled, but this has been a trend. Theodore has two assists and is minus-1 in eight games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If the Golden Knights are going to win the Cup, they’re going to need more out of him. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist
About last night
There were two playoff games Sunday:
Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Carolina Hurricanes 1: Forward Barclay Goodrow scored with 7:21 remaining in the third period and the Lightning held on to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Forward Brayden Point scored a power-play goal and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves for the Lightning. Defenseman Jake Bean scored a power-play goal and goalie Alex Nedeljkovic made 28 saves for the Hurricanes. Point gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead at 8:15 of the second period by deflecting defenseman Victor Hedman’s shot-pass into the net. Bean tied it with a one-timer that redirected off Lightning forward Anthony Cirelli at 1:41 of the third period. Goodrow scored with a low, shortside shot from the lower part of the left circle. Game 2 is in Carolina on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).
Colorado Avalanche 7, Vegas Golden Knights 1: Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar scored four points (one goal, three assists), and forwards Nathan MacKinnon (two goals, one assist) and Gabriel Landeskog (two goals, one assist) each scored three points in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Second Round. MacKinnon is the first player to score at least 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in the first five games of the playoffs since Sidney Crosby scored 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in the first five games for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2010. Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen added two points (one goal, one assist) and forward Brandon Saad also scored. Colorado goalie Philipp Grubauer made 24 saves. Vegas goalie Robin Lehner made his 2021 postseason debut and allowed seven goals, his most in a Stanley Cup Playoff game, on 37 shots. Game 2 is at Denver on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).